Morning Bible Study
This Thursday’s Truth Project is about “Anthropology”, or, the study of
man. Just what is man?
Jesus’ ministry is well under way, and the people have been amazed not just
at the things He’s been teaching, but the things He’s been doing.
:6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted
in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.
:6 He also spoke this parable
A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
It’s about speaking in metaphors with parts of the story carrying a deeper
Sometimes Jesus interprets a parable for us, other times He leaves it to us
to figure out what He’s talking about.
I have learned over the years that there can be various layers to parables.
There is a layer of meaning.
We will see that there are going to be ways of applying this parable beyond
the initial meaning.
Let’s read the whole parable …
(Luke 13:6–9 NKJV)
—6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree
planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 Then he said
to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit
on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ 8 But he
answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around
it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can
cut it down.’ ”
Let’s start with the surface layer of meaning.
Who are the main players?
The land owner is God.
I think the “keeper” in our parable is Jesus, who has been taking care of
Both the fig tree and vineyard are pictures of Israel.
Isaiah spoke of the nation of Israel being God’s vineyard
Jeremiah compared the nation to figs (Jer. 24).
What’s the point of the parable?
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, God has been looking to see if there is
any fruit coming from the nation of Israel.
What kind of fruit was God looking for?
John the Baptist said,
3:8 NKJV) Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,
Most of the nation had not shown any signs of true
repentance. They had no signs of a
change in the direction of their lives.
While God is ready to cut down the nation, He is willing to give it a
little more time.
There is also a subtle lesson about God’s patience in this
It might look like God is itching to get rid of fruitless
Israel, yet when it all played out, God waited an additional 40 years after the
death of Jesus before the nation was scattered by the Romans.
Now let’s dig a little deeper…
This parable isn’t limited to the nation of Israel.
Remember from last week, that Jesus had been telling that people that they
too would perish if they did not repent (Luke 13:5)
Have you been living your life in rebellion against God?
God wants you to know that He sent His Son to die for you
so you wouldn’t have to perish.
God wants you to turn your life around.
God is patient enough to give you a chance to repent, but
He won’t wait forever.
:6 he came seeking fruit
God is looking for fruit. Jesus
(John 15:8 NKJV) By this My
Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
God wants to see that you are really letting Him work in your life.
:7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I
have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does
it use up the ground?’
:7 for three years I have come seeking fruit
It’s possible that this is also a clue that Jesus’ ministry at this time has
now been active about three years. God
is looking for fruit from the nation of Israel.
:7 Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?
A smart grower isn’t going to let a fig tree take up space in his orchard
when it isn’t producing any figs. A fig grower isn’t trying to produce fig
leaves, he’s trying to produce fruit.
While the tree is still growing, it is taking up precious nutrients in the
ground that could be going to plants or trees that ARE bearing fruit.
Jesus used the same idea when talking about grape vines.
(John 15:2a NKJV) Every branch
in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away
We used to have a grape vine when we lived in Placentia.
I wanted to see how hard it was to grow grapes.
One of the things I learned is that part of grape vines can grow like
Some branches or shoots from the vine grow very, very
quick, but they don’t produce any fruit, all they produce are lots of leaves.
I learned that these shoots are called “suckers”.
The “suckers” use up all the nutrients inside the vine
just to produce branches and leaves, but don’t produce any fruit.
If you want to produce fruit, you need to trim the
:8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also,
until I dig around it and fertilize it.
:8 until I dig around it and fertilize it
In Greek, “fertilize” is made up of two words, and could be translated, “until… I should throw manure on it”. Does that paint a pretty picture for you?
Ingredients for growth
When we moved into our current house, there was a mysterious looking citrus
tree in the backyard.
We didn’t know what kind of a tree it was because it never bore any fruit.
We did some work around the base of the tree so it would catch more water,
put some fertilizer into the soil, and added a sprinkler head near the tree to
make sure it was watered enough.
That’s all it needed. It now bears
lots of lemons. Meyer Lemons.
What are the ingredients for me to grow as a Christian?
It’s like the sun.
It’s spending time in God’s presence, both talking to Him and listening to
(Psalm 27:8 NKJV) When You
said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord,
I will seek.”
It’s like the water.
David wrote that the person who delights in God’s Word…
(Psalm 1:3 NKJV) He shall be
like a tree planted by
the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf
also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
It’s like the soil.
We need each other. Kind of like a
support group … kind of …
Video: Coping with Humans – Support
Group for Bots
Growth doesn’t come when you are separated from other believers, it comes
in the context of being planted with other believers.
NKJV) —24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good
works, 25 not
forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of
some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day
I look at trials as the “fertilizer”.
Fertilizer and strawberries
A farmer was driving along the road with a load of
fertilizer. A child playing in front of his house saw him and called, “What are
you hauling?” “Fertilizer,” the farmer replied. “What are you going to do with
it?” asked the child. “Put it on strawberries,” answered the farmer. “You ought
to live here,” the child advised him. “We put sugar and cream on ours!”
Some of us think that if we want a “happy” life, we must get rid of every
difficult thing in our lives. Yet it’s
the difficulties that God uses to deepen our relationship with Him.
1:2–4 NKJV) —2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that
the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its
perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
James is speaking of how we mature as believers. It comes from how we respond to trials.
Do you want to grow?
Don’t run from your trials. Ask
God to mature you through them.
This was in the June 11 “Streams
In The Desert” devotional talking about how we can see the fruit of
“gentleness” produced in our lives.
“So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which
thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness,
and crucifixion involves suffering; it is a real breaking and crushing of self,
which wrings the heart and conquers the mind.
“There is a good deal of mere mental and logical
sanctification nowadays, which is only a religious fiction. It consists of
mentally putting one’s self on the altar, and then mentally saying the altar
sanctifies the gift, and then logically concluding therefore one is sanctified;
and such an one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the
deep things of God.
“But the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and
the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder, and the bosom has not throbbed
with the lonely, surging sighs of Gethsemane; and not having the real death
marks of Calvary, there cannot be that soft, sweet, gentle, floating,
victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows like a spring morning from
an empty tomb.”
In other words, for God to produce real, true work in us, sometimes we have
to be broken, and that requires trials.
Manure, not sugar and cream.
Sun, water, soil, and fertilizer.
How is your garden growing?
:9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut
it down.’ ”
:9 after that you can cut it down
Calling it quits
There are some things that simply are a waste of our time.
They don’t “bear fruit” in our lives.
They may be good sounding things, they may be worthy
goals, but they may not be right for us.
Learn to trim those “suckers”
Sometimes in churches, a program gets started and long after it ceases to
be effective, the leadership is working as hard as they can to keep it going,
often just because of sentimentality.
Years ago during the Jesus Movement, one of the big things God used in
Southern California was the Saturday night Maranatha Concerts at Calvary Chapel
of Costa Mesa.
Thousands of people came to Christ through the bands that
played and the evangelists who spoke at the concerts.
Yet after about ten years, the concerts weren’t quite as effective. There came a point when Pastor Chuck pulled
Did Calvary Chapel stop all evangelism? Not at all. Later
God put it on Chuck’s heart to start the Harvest Crusades. Do you think that’s
been effective? Absolutely.
For those of us involved in various ministries, it doesn’t
hurt from time to time to step back from your ministry, look things over and
ask God, “Do you still want me doing this?”
In our personal lives, the real question is, “Am I supposed to do this?”
You thought it was your “passion”, and was taught that you should go after
your “passions”, but things don’t seem to be working out so well.
Here’s a video directed to graduates…
Video: Prager – Don’t Follow Your
There is a time to call it quits.
Limits to quitting
Don’t take this parable as a reason for quitting your marriage.
Don’t take this as an excuse for quitting life.
Even if God is calling you to “quit” on something, keep in mind that it
isn’t necessarily forever.
In the main lesson of this parable, Israel is the fig tree. Even though God allowed the nation of Israel
to be “cut down”, it wouldn’t be forever.
God would one day restore the nation.
:8 let it alone this year also
Quitting is not always the answer.
Some things require time.
In three areas:
The Calvary Chapel movement is now about 50 years old. Up until the last ten years or so, most of
the Calvary Chapels that you might visit were being pastored by the same fellow
who started the church. Those of us who
start a church from scratch are called “church planters”.
I’ve heard a common story among Calvary pastors who planted new churches.
After a year or two with a small, struggling church, the pastor reaches a point
where he wants to quit.
In 1982, Skip Heitzig headed off to Albuquerque to start a
Bible Study and hopefully start a church.
I’ve heard the story of Skip calling Pastor Chuck after about a year and
being so, and being so discouraged he thought he would call it quits. Chuck’s
response was pretty standard over the years. “Perhaps you ought to just give it
six more months” he would say. Of
course, today Calvary Chapel Albuquerque is a huge church with over 15,000
people attending each weekend.
Sometimes we reach a place in our lives or our ministry where we want to
call it quits. And perhaps that is exactly what we ought to do. But sometimes
what we need to do is to just give it a little more time.
Maybe break up the ground a bit. Maybe add a little fertilizer.
In the parable, the farmer told the landlord to give it one more year.
The effort wasn’t open ended. There would be an end to it. But there was one last chance given.
Our friendly advice giving cat has some advice about friendships. Don’t bother take notes…
Video: Dear Kitten: Regarding
I’d have to say that one of the most important elements to a relationship
is the patience you show each other.
We just celebrated our 38th Wedding Anniversary on Friday.
From what people tell me, I get the feeling that some of you look at our
marriage as some sort of gold standard – what you wish your marriage would be.
We don’t see our marriage quite that way because we are
aware of how hard it is to make marriage work.
A good marriage doesn’t happen overnight.
You must have lots of patience with your spouse – I know
my wife does with me.
Early on in our relationship, God gave my wife this verse:
27:14 NKJV) Wait on the Lord; Be of good
courage, And He shall
strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
God told her that she was going to need to wait on Him in
order to be patient with me.
Becoming a mature Christian does not happen overnight.
It takes lots of time, maybe a breaking up of the hard
ground, and perhaps some fertilizer.
You may be wondering when you’re ever going to get it
Keep learning. Keep
training. Keep growing.
It’s possible that some of you have not yet turned your life over to Jesus.
Do you know why you, like that fig tree, have not yet been
Because God is being patient with you.
The Bible says,
Peter 3:9b NIV) Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but
everyone to come to repentance.
I do have to warn you; God will not wait forever. Let today be the day that you turn your life
over to God.